Axle Flip and Surge to Electric Brake Conversion - 1976 Bonair BA1200

Discussion in 'Tires / Brakes / Bearings / Axles' started by oconnor, Jun 21, 2010.

  1. oconnor

    oconnor TreeSqueak

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    I am in the process of getting our new to us 76 Bonair ready for our first pop-up season, and am tackling the axle and brakes first. Took the axle off on Saturday to get it in the garage for ease of work, and have it disassembled - that wasn't too tricky. This is my first trailer job, but I have lots of wrench time on old and new cars over the last 20 years, so I'm not worried about skill level, but don't want to get hit by any surprises as I go.

    It is equipped with 7" Atwood surge brakes - the master cylinder works well on the bench, but the rubber boot is shot, and both wheel cylinders are toast along with pads. The backing plates themeselves are solid with original paint still on the front and back.

    My plan is to replace them with a set of Dexter electric brakes (full set is 130 Canadian here with all hardware and shoes attached). Then I'll need to lock the tongue, either welding it or a solid bolt (checking with the inspection station as I type to see what they will accept).

    My TV (2005 Grand Caravan) already has the seven way wiring, but I haven't bought a brake controller yet.

    The axle flip looks too easy - springs have centering pins top and bottom, and the bolts and nut all came off without any trouble. Reinstall should be literally the reverse of removal as I see it. Already hung the back of the trailer up backing into the storage spot in the yard, so looking forward to a few more inches of clearance.

    Any thoughts or comments on the brake swap or recommendations for brake controllers - I am more interested in trouble free ease of use than cost, as I want my wife to be comfortable driving the TV with trailer in tow.

    Thanks

    Brent

    1976 Bonair BA 1200
    TV 2005 Grand Caravan with Mopar Hitch and 7 way harness
     
  2. Woodzeke

    Woodzeke New Member

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    Just got finished putting a set of electric 10 inch brakes on my 2406 Starcraft. Very easy wiring and installation. The parts came from etrailer-the new hubs came with seals and bearings. I had to use a box end wrench to tighten the backing plate because of clearance issue. The wires from the backing plate are not polarity sensitive. I used in line crimps with heat shrink tubing over the connection-maybe overkill. There is a left side and right side backing plate. Tools used were channel lock pliers, flat blade screwdriver, hammer, boxend wrench, heat gun and crimpers. I bought a tekshona (SP) Prodigy brake controller which everybody swears by. Etrailer has video on how to install electric brakes, and how to adjust them on youtube.
     
  3. oconnor

    oconnor TreeSqueak

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    Got it all apart and cleaned last night, new brakes will arrive today before supper. Realized two things as I went along [:O]:

    #1 - Can't just roll the axle over and install upside down - axles usually have a crown to them and it needs to stay in the original orientation.
    #2 - Can't get 7 x 1 - 3/4" electric brakes from my supplier.

    SO... [RTM]

    I dropped of the axle to a welding shop to have new plates welded to the other side so I can keep the crown oriented correctly. Should run me about $20.

    AND, I ordered narrower brakes (7 x 1 1/4 I believe). I don't expect I should have a problem, as they will just ride on less of the drum surface. Also ordered the break away swith kit with battery and box and switch for $32.

    Does anyone see any more problems I may have missed so far? I do realize that my stabilizers and steps will need to be longer eventually, so I'll be bringing some 6x6 blocks in the mean time.

    I'll post some pics tonight for those who prefer pics before they answer a post [:D]
     
  4. jim1999

    jim1999 New Member

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    I won't make a recommendation on a brand of brake controller but I will make one on the type. Go with a proportional controller. I will activate the brakes in accordance with how fast you are trying to stop.
     
  5. Dusty82

    Dusty82 Active Member

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    I'll be watching this thread because I'm considering the axle flip as well. One thing I'd like to know is how much ground clearance you gain after the flip. I'm looking to install BAL stabilizer jacks, but I don't know which size to get. I know I most likely won't know which size to get until I actually do the flip, but maybe I can get a ballpark idea by watching your thread. Please keep us informed, and good luck with your brake conversion!
     
  6. oconnor

    oconnor TreeSqueak

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    OK, [:!]so I just figured out one more thing - I need to resurface the armature surface of my drums, not just the regular drum surface - looks like I have another step to go thru - too bad all the machine shops are closed....

    For those who didn't know (like me only an hour ago) the magnet rides along the inner face of the drum perpendicular to the drum surface. If it isn't smooth, it will ruin the magnets. On normal hydraulic brakes, this surface is left pebbled and raw, and needs to be machined smooth.

    So, tonight I'll get the axle on the trailer, and wire the system
    Tomorrow I'll install the drums and the brake controller
    Thursday, Safety Inspection
    Friday, our first trip in the trailer

    Risk of failure is getting higher...
     
  7. oconnor

    oconnor TreeSqueak

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    So here are some pics of the work so far:
    Her Best side -
    [​IMG]

    A few extra wires -
    [​IMG]

    Axle off and removing backing plates -
    [​IMG]

    Surge brake master cylinder removed and new wire harness installed -
    [​IMG]

    Rotten wires we found when pulling out the old harness -
    [​IMG]

    Getting the lights to work. Thinking an LED upgrade is in order -
    [​IMG]

    Tomorrow the drums are of for machining and repacking, the axle goes on and gets wired up, and hopefully my brake controller will be installed. Wish me luck, 3 days before we leave!!!
     
  8. oconnor

    oconnor TreeSqueak

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    Busy day, and of course it didn't all get done. [;)]

    Learned that the new backing plates are recessed, and the machine shop had to move the square receivers outboard 1/2 inch each to get the pads to run on the drums. So far, I have spent about 3/4 of what a new axle would have cost me, but I have learned a lot.

    Got the wiring sorted out - bought a proper crimping tool, and used a 10 slot wiring block to organize all the circuits from the tow harness in a logical fashion.

    Question on the brake wires for those who know [?:~{]- How are they usually run on newer campers? I have brought my wires up thru the floor into a cupboard where my "main electrical load center" (airplane term from my P3 flying days) and left enough slack below deck.

    Thoughts?
     
  9. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

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    The brake wires on our pup are run from the plug along the frame rail under the floor, then down to each brake. All nicely held in place with tie wraps, ya think the manufacture would at least use some sort of P-clip along the frame..
     
  10. bkline1322

    bkline1322 New Member

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    I have a question about eletric braks. I have a 1992 coleman New to me. I had to rewired the rewire that done to it. They had cut the 7 wire and placed a 4 wire plug on it. Anyway when I was doing that I placed 12v to the brake wire and I could hear the brakes engage. Is it safe to assume they work or is there a better way to test them. My TV is a 2004 Envoy with a factory installed tow package, so the trailer bake controll is put of the computer in the car.
     
  11. oconnor

    oconnor TreeSqueak

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    It's safe to assume the magnets engaged, but as far as the brakes working, you should pull the drums and check the magnets and drums for even wear. My system powers up, but I didn't have the stopping power I expected. When I pulled my remachined drums, I found out my magnets weren't sitting flat on the armature surface (they were riding on the hub). I will be pulling them off this week and having the drums remachined to make sure they sit flush.
     
  12. star78

    star78 New Member

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    On an axle flip you will gain 3 - 4 inches in height. The 7 X 1 3/4 brakes don't stop you on a dime,but they help an awful lot.The nice thing with the electric brakes if you have sway, just reach down and engage the brake controller.
     

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